Ghana’s economy has been largely supported by the agriculture sector, but this has not been exploited to the maximum.
Commodities such as avocado, pineapple, coconut, sweet-potato, cashew among others have huge value on the international market, but have not been exploited due to lack of funds to support the sector.
The Alliance for Development and Industrialisation, (ADI), a think-tank group, is proposing a US$2billion Transformational Commodity Fund, (TCF) for the agriculture sector. The US$2billion fund is expected to support the complete value chain and adjourning structures such as roads infrastructure at community levels, farmer support and contracting, storage, processing, packaging and marketing.
The US$2billion, which can be raised through the issuance of bonds on the international market, could be used to support the country’s five key commodities – avocado, pineapple, coconut, sweet potato and cashew – which have huge potentials offshore.
In a press statement issued in Accra, the ADI is insistent that this should not be the burden of government but rather the private sector’s responsibility – which should be based on a monitoring and structural system that can pay back the debt. It would also support grass-roots development and expansion of the agricultural industry, making sure that the value chain establishment for these industries are well established to pay for the facility.
According to the statement: “This is just a replica of the Syno Hydro barter deal with Ghana’s bauxite…what we need is government’s guarantee to raise the money, since the cultivation of these crops would automatically pay for it”.
The export of these commodities would bring in the much-needed greenbacks to slow down the cedi’s sharp depreciation; support the country’s balance of payment; and also improve on the reserves.
According to the ADI, the bonds should have a 15-year tenor, and would be paid back to potential investors through the export of these commodities.
The cultivation of these five commodities on a large scale would serve as an import substitution and also feed the factories government is creating through the 1D1F programme.
According to ADI arithmetic, the cultivation of coconut for export over 130,000 acres is expected to generate US$250million per annum over a 10-year period, with an expected 61000 jobs; the cultivation of avocado on a 120,000 acres over a six-year period is expected to generate US$700million per annum, with expectedly 24,000 jobs; and sweet potato on 35,000 acres could generate US$200million annually with an expected 14,000 jobs.
Citrus can generate US$180million annually on 95 thousand acres of land with an expected 36,000 jobs; cashew could generate US$40million annually in the next six years; mangoes could generate US$160million annually with an expected 3,100 jobs; pineapple could generate US$150million per annum, and also essential oils could generate US$135million per annum with over 25,000 jobs.
The ADI has called on the Finance Minister to work assiduously to raise these bonds for the agriculture sector, since it is considered as the backbone of the country’s economy.